Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | October 21, 2011

Here, there and everywhere

We’ve traveled to Macedonia and back (for a film festival in Bitola; fascinating place). Melody arranged this trip for almost 30 students and three professors (two real, Melody and our friend David Wallace, and one imagined — me).

After returning, we threw ourselves into preparing and teaching because we lost a couple of days of prep time. Seriously, I worked really hard to make the classes this week thought-provoking and useful. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I have realized one thing about myself: I can’t half-ass my way through teaching. Maybe after a few more years, but it’s hard to create a class and teach it in a way that hasn’t been done before.

I tried to follow the syllabus of the professor who did this before me, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with her material so I just started doing it my way, kind of making it up as I’ve gone along. I think it’s working. And I’m seeing real improvement in some of the students. They’ll be doing two big projects soon, a mid-term and a final. That’ll be the test. But I’m anticipating getting about a dozen really good stories for both assignments (out of 16 in the class). That’s a pretty good ratio, I think.

I’ve kept one eye on the sports world back home, too. Sad to see my Brewers take another dive against the hated Cardinals. Man, I’ve hated that team since 1982 and I haven’t found any love for them now. At least we have the Packers — and I’ll be hoping they’ll be able to avoid a major stumbling block in Minnesota this weekend. I’m worried about Jared Allen, though. I have to be honest. … And I could even imagine Christian Ponder going off on that porous defense of the Pack.

But enough of that nonsense. We had a great Skype with Jenna last night. She’s coming to visit at the end of November: Thanksgiving in Bulgaria! … Not sure if we’ll locate a turkey, but who cares. … It’ll be enough to have our little girl near for even a short while.

Took a good 35 kilometer sprint ride today (with a few good hills and a few rugged trails thrown in for good measure). Two-and-a-half hours. Then walked and walked this afternoon. The weather is about perfect. Cool at night and in the morning, and crisp and perfect in the afternoon.

But now we have to navigate the next week and then we get our first break of the semester; a week to do whatever we want. I’ve proposed a trip to Prague. We might try Budapest. I just want to be in a major city for a few days, get lost amid shops and museums (OK, bars. There, I’ve said it). Maybe take in a show somewhere (yeah, and drink good beer, perhaps). Eat some different kinds of food (and beer). One drawback here is that the food starts to taste the same after a while (and the beer, too).

We’re managing, though. We miss our friends, of course. We miss our dear, dear family. We miss a good American breakfast. That’s something we’ll dive into when we return. I’d love a good steak. I was just thinking about that today. Beef is not readily available here.

And of course, I miss a good Summit EPA. Beer. I’d give just about anything for a good local beer right about now.

But we’re good. Thanks for asking. 🙂



  1. Mark! Can’t help much with the beer, but I’ve heard Sofia has a few places that serve American breakfast, which I have also been craving for the last… hm… year? and dying to go try. Maybe next weekend? I hear you guys might be passing through Sofia. Hope to see you soon! P.S. I think that turkeys are widely available here too, but maybe that’s just around Christmas?

  2. go to bucharest and scope it out for me! have you thought about pitching some travel stories to kerri westenberg?

    i taught a University class once–advanced magazine writing at Ohio State, when i was the thurber fellow. it was extremely hard to do, and when the summer session was over, i thought, “Now i know what i’m doing! Now i could do it right!” but i never really got the chance to teach again. it was on to the strib.

    still loving your posts–except when you say stupid stuff like LIKING THE PACKERS.

    all best, laurie

    • Yeah, Laurie, I am really looking forward to teaching this class again next semester. I have done a ton of good prep work.

      And GO PACKERS! Sorry. It’s my blog, after all.

  3. If you get to Prague or anywhere else in the Czech Rep. you will like the beer. My atlas says that some of Europe’s finest beers are brewed there. Pilsener lager and This Bud’s
    For You originated there!

  4. I know a place in Blago where you can get a real steak!!!
    The place is called Casa-Adria, you can tell a cab “Restaurant Casa Adria” and they’ll take you there.

  5. From one Mark to another…. look forward to seeing you at Casa Adria, for a great steak and service…..

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